This Ambient Jams playlist release showcases an arts advocacy project associated with the YIMBY movement (Yes In My Backyard). YIMBY get involved with local housing issues and so their channel brings through a wide range of topics, from politics to research, outreach to the gaming community, music, visual arts, etc. Genre isn’t so much the defining or guiding factor, rather it’s the underlying issues and themes that drive the creative process – resulting in an ultimately unique and beautifully expressive listening journey.
The playlist begins with Skyline – Population, thirteen minutes of structurally intentional audio, weaving its way through moments of delicacy, of electronic and organic fragments alike, creating around you a warm and often minimalist ambiance that’s blissfully easy to escape into; and is consistently original in melody and style.
The music is made up of unexpected moments, following the pathway of its story-line as much as the style of the project in general does. There are piano-led instances of fullness, there are simplistic appearances of single notes and dashes of ideas. At times there’s a sense of togetherness and calm, at other times there’s a feeling of wandering through the complexities and eclecticism of city life. Hints of sadness appear intermittently with flickers of optimism, and all of this really helps the body and mind connect with the ever-changing environments at the heart of the work.
The political and societal undertones of this music add a great deal of reflection and depth to each soundscape. Where you could blindly let the music play out – filling the room with originality, colour, and unpredictable detail, you can also – and are likely to – consider the impact these underlying issues are having on the individuals related to it; and indeed on the artist. Knowing there’s a purpose to the artistry lets it shine in a whole different way.
What the composer and producer does well throughout these tracks is create an ongoing sense of movement and change – these complex issues are represented well by this. Skylines – Movements, as an example, gives off a feeling of a long train journey; complete with changing pace, moments of calm and some of greater energy leaning towards chaos. Your heart connects with this varied rhythm in a profound way, almost as if you’re involved or watching a movie with scenes and meandering levels of passion and struggle at work.
At the same time as all of this, each track that emerges is made up of a new set of samples and instruments – there are unlimited tools at his disposal, and again the presentation depends on the mood and the emotions related to the underlying topic. The Temple, as a fine example, offers the sounds of the natural world in line with a few flickers of musicality and organic instrumentation – building around you a gorgeously peaceful and thoughtful ambiance, which is, yet again, superbly representative of the very concept of a temple. There’s an addictive level of peacefulness to this particular track that soothes to the core – your breathing slows, the weight of the world falls away, and at fifteen minuets in length the experience is completely unlike anything else and offers the full depth of escapism to an extensive degree.
Where occasionally there will be a clear line between music and ambiance – songs and soundscapes – there are plenty of moments within this playlist that beautifully fuse the two. Frontierland (Rimworld) is creatively free yet structurally meaningful; contrasting drama with gentleness. You witness this unpredictable, mellow yet ongoing playing of notes, and in the distance there’s a loudness and weight. It almost feels like the art of distraction, or the need to carry on, to keep doing what you do despite what’s happening around you.
Elsewhere in the playlist, Geoscape 1 Animation (Xenonauts) makes for a particularly stunning audio experience. Explicitly calm by nature, yet full in effect and beautifully enveloping as you turn up the volume and relax into it. The heavy drone in the distance surrounds you, and meanwhile these subtle and infrequent moments and changes help create a sense of life, of living, which is incredibly inspiring and quite emotional to have fill the room.
This playlist in full or for any significant run-time is a must – it’s something to let stream while you go about your day; replacing silence with non-intrusive musical artistry, which has been professionally and emotionally designed. It’s something that can light up parts of your world you might never look towards otherwise. Patience and peace rarely play a role in modern life, but they should, and perhaps they must as times move faster and grow noisier and more impactful on our every day existence. Enter YIMBY, these compositions, and the choice to temporarily free yourself from the manic downpour of information.